Saturday, July 11, 2009
It's nice to be back in Arusha, which is now the "familiar." Walked around town for a good portion of the day. Nick, Andrew, and I ordered sweaters before we left for Mandaka and we picked them up today. They are striped like the Tanzanian flag: green at the top, yellow/black/yellow stripe in the middle, and blue at the bottom. They're only sold in child sizes, so we went to a shop in a nearby market called Kilombero. It's more of a local scene, not many foreigners shop here. For this reason, it is a favorite because if we use Swahili we can get a good price and people aren't trying to rip you off. And the produce is beyond amazing. During our last week of Swahili lessons, Godson & Beatrice took us to the "Masai Market" where they are more accustomed to tourists... I asked for 1 bunch of mchicha (spinach) and was told elfu moja (1000 Tsh). Although this is the equivalent of less than $1, the normal price is less than a third of that. Today Esther and I bought 3 bunches for 300, no bargaining necessary. It was a nice moment, but maybe the feeling of that moment doesn't quite come across through text. It's not about the actual money of course, it's about the feeling of acceptance in such a beautiful culture. When you first arrive, it's challenging because you just feel so out of place. To feel more comfortable and respected is an awesome feeling.
Homestays start tomorrow. I am staying with the family of a friend I met early on this trip. His name is Mohamed and he is my age. I wish I could express how funny this situation will be. I will be living right next to Swifts School, the one I worked at for one week that I grew to love. (His family runs it.) Since it was both a primary and preschool, working with the "baby class" (as they call it) was one of my favorite things to do. I'd take in tons of photographs and books with images and show them to the 3-5 year olds. Their responses were never boring and it always amazed me how they never lost interest in looking and identifying what they saw. My favorite thing to drink here is fresh passion juice. And I still love my henna :)
I'll leave you with some more photos, as I recently developed a whole bunch. These are from Mandaka and Zanzibar.